Vicksburg Engraved Dog Collar, ca. 1860
Appraised Value: $2,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:02)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Musical Instruments
GUEST: I got this from my mother. She's had it for years. It's traveled through the family. My grandmother's mother's father had two brothers, and they were in the Union army. They fought for Ulysses S. Grant when the National Guard was created, and they went into Vicksburg, Mississippi, and they took over the Lum family mansion. The military resided in the bottom of the mansion while the Lum family resided upstairs. Ulysses S. Grant promised the Lum family that their home would be returned to them when the military was finished with that, and during that time, the Lum family mansion burned down. Somehow, my relatives came home with this bracelet, and it has been in my family's possession ever since that time. The Lum family did petition the government to be reimbursed for the plantation, and eventually, after like 30 years, they were reimbursed for their mansion.
APPRAISER: And so what do you think this is?
GUEST: I think that it's a slave bracelet. I would like to think that my relatives helped to free the slaves and that was one of the ones that they freed or maybe they found. I think that this is the name of the slaveholder and then the name of the slave underneath it. Am I right?
APPRAISER: The thing about it is that it's very large for a bracelet, and then I got to thinking, "Well, if it was a slave bracelet, why would it be adjustable with the slots in the back of it?" So after I tried it on my wrist and after I got to thinking about it, all of a sudden, between me and the gun people and the silver people, it hit us. We knew exactly what it was. It's a dog collar.
GUEST: Are you serious?
APPRAISER: I'm serious as a heart attack.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: This is not necessarily a bad thing, because one of the points of this is that there never was any such thing as a slave bracelet. That's why we've had such a hard time. I think it was probably bought in a jewelry store. It has these little hallmarks on my side of it over here that you can see, and I showed it to the silver people and they're what they call "pseudo-hallmarks," which means that they're not silver. If it were a dog collar that was used in New York, its value would be $300 to $500. Because this is a Civil War-era object and that it's marked "Vicksburg, Mississippi" and has the name of that family that had that plantation, it has a lot of regional appeal. Therefore, in Vicksburg, the retail value would be $2,000.
GUEST: Mm-hmm. My mother is going to just die. (laughing) That's all I can think about is telling her that. The mystery is solved.
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